Friday, 17 October 2014

007 The Daleks Episode 3: The Escape

EPISODE: The Daleks Episode 3: The Escape
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 04 January 1964
WRITER: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Richard Martin
SCRIPT EDITOR: David Whitaker
PRODUCER: Verity Lambert
RATINGS: 8.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: DVD - The Beginning Boxset

"What do you want? But they said you were..... but they called you..... But you're not. You're perfect."

Susan is confronted by a tall blonde man outside the Tardis wrapped in a cloak who scares her. He introduces himself as Alydon of the Thals. Worrying that the Daleks may try to take the drugs from her he gives Susan a second box of the phials which he urges her to keep secret. He gives her his cloak to keep warm and walks her back to the edge of the city. The Daleks return her to the cell where the drugs begin to act on the other three Time Travellers. The Daleks get Susan to write a letter to the Thals offering them the food they are searching for in exchange for help recultivating the land round the city. Susan discovers the Daleks have been observing them in their cell which leads to the prisoners immobilising the camera. The Thals find the letter at the city gates requesting they come to the entrance to the city at dawn the next day. The Travellers consider the Daleks and the Doctor works out that they must be powered by static electricity through the floor. The lure a Dalek into the cell, blind it with mud made from drinking water and dirt off their shoes and immobilise it by dragging it over the cloak Susan was given. Ian opens the Dalek up and, repulsed by what's inside sends Barbara and Susan to keep watch while he and the Doctor remove the creature and wrap it in the cloak. Ian climbs into the Dalek case as a disguise and escorts the others down the corridor outside the cell. As they leave a clawed hand emerges from under the discarded cloak.....

Yes, most of the Tardis crew spend the whole episode in a cell. Yes, the Thals look a bunch of weak & simple fools. But the episode holds the attention right the way through, especially every moment the Daleks are on screen. They just draw your eye and hold your attention.

Last episode one of the Daleks spoke about the Thals:

"Most of them perished in the war, but we know that there are survivors. They must be disgustingly mutated, but the fact that they have survived tells us they must have a drug that preserves the life force."
Well these "disgustingly mutated" being turn out to be, in Susan's words "perfect" as she discovers when she meets Alydon:


SUSAN: "I don't understand. They said you were. Well, they called you mutations."
ALYDON: "We are the survivors of a final war. But the radiation still persists and that is why your friends are ill. I wonder if the Daleks have seen us."
SUSAN: "Seen you?"
ALYDON: "I mean, if they call us mutations, what must they be like?"
And that question will haunt Doctor who for many years: what does a Dalek look like inside? We get hints here, towards the end of the episode the look of revulsion on the Doctor & Ian's faces as they open the Dalek, followed by the final shot of a Dalek mutant's clawed hand which for many years is the only part of a Dalek we see:


Many years later Remembrance of the Daleks features a similar shot as a claw emerges from a damaged Dalek casing to attack the Doctor. By then we've seen a quivering green mess in the remains of a Dalek in The Five Doctors and Resurrection of the Daleks but it wasn't until 2005's Daleks that we saw a full, alive Dalek mutant.

We also get a reason for the Thals presence near the Dalek city: they're there out of desperation as Susan relates to the other travellers:

Alydon says the Thals are going to starve unless they can find new supplies of food. You see, after the war, the Thals that survived managed to cultivate small plots of land. Well, that's how they've survived ever since. But they've always had to be very, very careful, because the crops have always been in danger. But, you see, they rely on a great rainfall that only happens about every four or five years. Well, it's two years overdue now, and all their crops are ruined. Well, that's why the whole Thal race had to leave their plateau and go in search of food.

From this point on The Daleks becomes the evil hideously mutated Daleks vs the peaceful perfect Thal farmers. We know he Thals weren't innocent parties in the war against the Daleks: we're told that in the next episode and many years later in Genesis of the Daleks we'll see that, but now it's obvious that our sympathies are meant to lie with this group of physically perfect humans rather than with the Daleks. It might have been a bit more interesting if it was the other way round and a couple of years later Doctor Who has great fun in subverting the idea of the "good looking ones are good, the monsters are evil" in one of my favourite Hartnell tales Galaxy Four.


But over the years the Daleks have been seen as sort of Space Nazis hating everything that's not like them. Given this analogy it's interesting that what they hate the most, the Thals, are a pretty much an Aryan stereotype!

Now I thought we got our first adapted Dalek in this episode, one with a tray replacing the sucker arm:


But looking at it again actually the Dalek's sucker is holding the tray. Indeed later in the episode we see Susan take the tray from the Dalek! This lets you track the Dalek during other scenes in the episode as there's an attachment inside the sucker to allow the tray to be mounted on.

What we do get for the first time is a hint at the Daleks catchphrase, Exterminate! The words itself isn't in this first Daleks story but we get close several times the first of which is hidden in a conversation between three Daleks about their prisoners destroying the camera in their cell:

DALEK 2: "Do you think it was broken accidentally in their struggle?"
DALEK 1: "No, the cable is strong. They have broken it deliberately."
DALEK 3: "They can be moved immediately to another room, the eye repaired."
DALEK 1: "No."
DALEK 2: "Extermination, then."
DALEK 1: "There is no escape from the room that holds them. They may well be useful again. We shall deal with the Thals."
More will follow. For the record I reckon the first use of the word "Exterminate" by a Dalek is in Dalek Invasion of Earth 6: Flashpoint. Do the Daleks ever say extermination again? I'm sure there must be a "total extermination" out there somewhere! (Having checked, yes, later in this story!)

Something Barbara said last week becomes important this week:

"they moved me from floor to floor, always in lifts."
The Daleks need to maintain their contact with the floor. They can't generate their own power, they're getting it from the city by static electricity. While it helps them to survive it also confines them there. Later Daleks would gain more mobility leading to the point where they would be shown hovering, an ability that these obviously lack due to their dependence on the floor for power.

I mentioned that the Mercury in the fluid link (episode 1, the Dead Planet) might be the work of script editor David Whitaker. The static electricity here possibly is too. The only other time the Daleks mobility is limited somewhat is in Power of the Daleks, written by Whitaker. There they can move short distances from their ship before having to return to recharge but want to lay a static power circuit round the colony to increase their range. Similarly in Whitaker's Evil of the Daleks static electricity forms a part of the experiments that Waterfield and Maxtible are conducting. While Whitaker might have lifted those elements from this story it's interesting that he's the only one who ever refers to them.

The Daleks are totally different to anything seen before. They're not obviously a man in a rubber suit and for many years people believed they were remote controlled. But there were men inside them from the very beginning. The four actors initially inside the Dalek casings are Robert Jewell, Kevin Manser, Gerald Taylor and Michael Summerton. This is Summerton's only Doctor Who appearance: he would later go on to run a talent agency. He doesn't even make it to the end of this story: for the final three episodes of this series was replaced by Murphy Grumbar who's billed in this story, and Dalek Invasion of Earth, as Peter Murphy. These remaining four operators would form the core team of Dalek operators during the 60s as we can see looking at this table of all the Dalek Operators:

Year Story RJ KM GT MG JSM CT TS TB Others
1963/4 The Daleks RJ KM GT MG         MS
1964 The Dalek Invasion of Earth RJ KM GT MG         NE
1965 The Chase RJ KM GT   JSM        
1965 Mission to the Unknown RJ KM GT   JSM        
1965/6 The Dalek Masterplan RJ KM GT   JSM        
1966 Power of the Daleks RJ KM GT   JSM        
1967 Evil of the Daleks RJ   GT MG JSM       KT
1969 The War Games RJ                
1972 Day of the Daleks       MG JSM       RN
1973 Frontier in Space       MG JSM CT      
1973 Planet of the Daleks       MG JSM CT      
1974 Death to the Daleks       MG JSM CT      
1975 Genesis of the Daleks         JSM CT     KA
1979 Destiny of the Daleks           CT     MM
1983 The Five Doctors         JSM        
1984 Resurrection of the Daleks         JSM CT TS TB  
1985 Revelation of the Daleks         JSM CT TS TB  
1988 Remembrance of the Daleks         JSM CT TS   HS

Recurring Dalek Operators
RJ Robert Jewell
KM Kevin Manser
GT Gerald Taylor
MG Murphy Grumbar aka Peter Murphy
JSM John Scott Martin
CT Cy Town
TS Tony Starr
TB Toby Byrne
MS Michael Summerton
NE Nick Evans
KT Ken Tyllsen
RN Ricky Newby
KA Keith Ashely
MM Mike Mungarvan
HS Hugh Spight

In addition Manser, Jewel and Taylor were Daleks in the film adaptation of this story Doctor Who And The Daleks alongside several extras who don't perform the same role in the TV Series. Jewel performs the same role in Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. but in an effort to save money *all* the other Daleks in that production are extras.

But the four main Dalek operators weren't only Daleks in Doctor Who:

Robert Jewel, Kevin Manser and Gerard Taylor were all Zarbi in the Web Planet where they were joined by future Dalek Operator Supreme John Scott Martin on his Doctor Who debut.

Robert Jewel appears in the Dalek Masterplan episode 7 The Feast of Steven as the Clown (who we're led to believe is Bing Crosby). Jewel had some photos of the broadcast of this episode taken as it was a rare appearance of him onscreen and they are now the only visual record of this missing never to be returned episode. Jewel and Manser were both Australians by both and both returned to the country after they finished working on Doctor Who.

Murphy Grumbar appears as a Mechanoid in the last two episodes of the Chase, a story in which he's not credited as a Dalek. He then later appears in the first of the Peladon stories, Curse of Peladon, as Arcturus.

Gerard Taylor is later the War Machine Operator & Voice of WOTAN in the War Machines. We catch a glimpse of him onscreen in The Underwater Menace as Damon's Assistant (he's in a screenshot I took for episode 2 then appears as the Baker's Man in The Dæmons and Vega Nexos in the second Peladon story, The Monster of Peladon.

The instant success of the Daleks from last week to this can be seen when we look at the ratings. To my mind for much of the time, in the case of a serial, the rating is more a reflection on how the previous episode was than the current one. Last week 6.4 million watched The Survivors. This week, possibly driven by word of mouth from last week's episode, the ratings leapt by 2.5 million viewers which Doctor Who held onto and built on for the rest of this serial:

Date Story Episode Change
23/11/1963 An Unearthly Child 1 An Unearthly Child 4.4
30/11/1963 1 An Unearthly Child (Repeat) 6
30/11/1963 2 The Cave of Skulls 5.9 1.5
07/12/1963 3 The Forest of Fear 6.9 1
14/12/1963 4 The Firemaker 6.4 -0.5
21/12/1963 The Daleks 1 The Dead Planet 6.9 0.5
28/12/1963 2 The Survivors 6.4 -0.5
04/01/1964 3 The Escape 8.9 2.5
11/01/1964 4 The Ambush 9.9 1
18/01/1964 5 The Expedition 9.9 0
25/01/1964 6 The Ordeal 10.4 0.5
01/02/1964 7 The Rescue 10.4 0

This episode marks the Doctor Who directing debut of Richard Martin. He'll direct the final two episodes of this story, the first of the next plus the Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Web Planet and the Chase in Doctor Who's second year.

This is the first episode of Doctor Who broadcast in 1964.

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